Mike McKendy, PI
30 January 2012
So I promise to do several posts to fill in the last two months but I thought I'd recount an interesting adventure which happened to us over the last couple of days; one which I feel entitles me to use the title of Private Investigator.
When we were on our way down to Miami, which is where we now are, Laurie and Blair on Odissea XX who we were travelling with found out that Jimmy Buffett was playing in Miami this past Saturday as the launch of his 2012 tour. Of course, we felt we had to go and purchased tickets. Will recount in greater detail the concert but in summary, Jimmy who recently turned 65 has certainly not lost his chops but our seats were not premium. More on this in a subsequent post.
So we were anchored in Sunset Lake, that small area nestled among multi-million dollar houses in Miami Beach. We took a bus to the concert and decided to take a cab home from the concert which was held at the American Airlines Arena, downtown Miami, home the Miami Heat. With the crush of people exiting the concert as well as the normal Saturday night crowd in downtown Miami, it took us a while to find a cab. I hop in the passenger front seat and Judy, Blair and Laurie in the back. As is my custom and Judy (and other friends will testify) I love to engage cab drivers in conversations; where they're from, how they like their work, and other nosey questions. I always have questions about their cabs and am fascinated by how they can keep these vehicles going in harsh conditions for many hundreds of thousands of miles.
So on this trip back to our boat, I learn that the cab driver's name is Antoine and from Haiti. His car is a Ford Crown Vic, which he told me was formerly a police car (it had that telltale spotlight mounted on the driver's pillar) and came from Canada. All the cabs in Miami are yellow/orange but there are many different cab companies. We had a good conversation, mostly in French as I use every opportunity when I'm south to keep up on my language skills. I did not note which company this guy drove for. So he drops us off on the secluded dead end street among the mansions where we left our dinghy and head out to our boats. Back at the boat, I come to the realization that I have left my small backpack in the cab but by this time, he has left. In the backpack were two light jackets which Judy and I bought years ago in Tarpon Springs when we had chartered an Island Packet sailboat with Michelle and Rob Harrison, a small video camera and our eyeglasses. Judy's were prescription. Those of you who know me well know my vanity and aversion to aging so I've avoided getting prescription glasses but at my last visit to the Optometrist, I did break down and buy decent readers (at $35.00 a far sight more costly than my usual dollar store pairs).
Not much we can do that night but I remain in the cockpit of the boat until about 1:30 am on the chance the cabbie comes back but no joy. I'm distracted by my carelessness and am determined to get my belongings back. I figure it's not much use trying to deal with this on Sunday and we're moving the boat anyway from Miami Beach to Key Biscayne as there is bad weather coming and we want to be able to enjoy the mobility and amenities of Key Biscayne.
This morning (Monday) I wake determined to track down my stuff. I get a copy of the yellow pages and determine that there are more than 35 cab companies in the greater Miami area. I start calling and the first one I contact, I tell my plight and ask if they have a Haitian driver named Antoine. This dispatcher says to me, "Most of the drivers are Haitian". So I figure I need a better strategy. So I call the Miami/Dade licensing agency and after a number of selections get an agent who has something to do with the licensing of Cab drivers and again recount my plight. I ask her is she can check her database to see if she can find aq match to my parameters; a driver of a yellow Crown Vic, from Haiti, whose first name is Antoine. I remembered seeing his last name on his plaque on the dash and I recalled that it was five letters long and the first two were SE. This lady gave it a half-hearted attempt and informed me that her search of first name (Antoine) returned 200 hits as she claims the search algorithm returned, in addition to Antoines, Anthonies and Tony's. Now remember this is Miami so just think about how many Tony's there would be. I asked her if she would be so kind as to scan the list to look for those with five letter last name beginning in SE. She haughtily informed me that she could not but gave me the number of some other office.
Undaunted, I call this other number and fortunately get a clever, patient and helpful agent; my former colleague and "customer-focus" advocate, Donat Theriault, would be proud of this lady. I told her my story and described our man as Haitian, black, late 30's/early 40's with a small "soul patch", whose first name was Antoine and last began with the letter S, five letters long. A few minutes later she comes back with two matches, Antoine Sampon and the second Antoine Senat. BINGO, the second was our man. She offers to call him them to have them contact me but I ask if she would give me name of the company the second guy works for - either Flamingo Taxi or Hurricane Taxi. I call Flamingo and the dispatcher confirms that Antoine drives for them and he said he'd have him call me. Two minutes later, Antoine calls and confirms that he found my bag and returned later to drop it back but obviously could not get out to the boat. We agreed that he will return to me here on Key Biscayne today when he come on shift.
Anyway, a couple of lessons; tenacity and determination pay off and there's nothing like great customer service!